CHESHIRE Wildlife Trust has hailed their first badger vaccination a success.
As an alternative to culling, the Trust undertook a two day programme at its Bickley Hall Farm headquarters in Malpas, where 19 badgers were captured in two separate dawn sessions.
Twelve badgers were given the badger bovine tuberculosis (bTB) vaccine, with the remaining seven recorded as recaptures the following day.
The move by the Trust to vaccinate badgers comes as the government trials culling the animals in the South West to stop the spread of bTB.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Richard Gardner said: “The overall total of a dozen individuals treated and the seven recaptures suggests we’ve hit our target of around 75 per cent of the badger population at this location.
“This will of course be bolstered by a continuing year-on-year vaccination for another four years which in spring may also include badger cubs.
“As someone who works with farmers, the scepticism over capture rates and effectiveness was high on the list of my own concerns, however this initial deployment has shown that with hard work and careful research we can achieve the necessary numbers.”
The vaccination scheme was supported by Chester Zoo, which provided £6,000 worth of equipment and expertise, with the aim of protecting the badger population while safeguarding British cattle from the disease.
Sarah Bird, Biodiversity Officer from Chester Zoo, said: “Chester Zoo supports conservation programmes around the world, working on human-wildlife conflict in many places.
“In India we are working to protect crops from elephants. Here in the UK, while we acknowledge the problem of bTB and that wildlife plays a role, by supporting this project we’re encouraging development of disease control techniques that protect badgers.”